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Making Changes Families Can Count On: Governor Gregoire Signs Budget to Invest in Education, Health Care and Jobs for Washington

For Immediate Release: May 15, 2007

Governor also signs her Rainy Day Fund proposal into law

OLYMPIA – Governor Chris Gregoire today signed into law a budget that will save money for future needs in a Rainy Day Fund and make vital investments to improve education, expand access to health care and support communities and help create family-wage jobs.

“In Washington we have an opportunity to make real changes that families can count on,” said Governor Gregoire. “Any business knows that in good times, you save and you invest in programs that will make your business stronger and that will bring increasing returns in the future that will help you get by when times are tough. That’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Governor Gregoire today also signed into a law a measure she requested that will save for the future by setting money aside into a Rainy Day Fund. Washington voters will be given the opportunity to constitutionally protect the fund, so that it can only be used in a declared state of emergency or when the Washington economy takes a downturn.

“These are the very investments that will keep our economy strong now and in the future,” said Gregoire.

Washington’s strong economy, with an all-time low unemployment rate of 4.4 percent, prompted Governor Gregoire and lawmakers to make significant investments to improve education, expand access to quality health care and support job creation while still making up for federal cuts and population growth.

“We’re making our state stronger, we’re making our roads and bridges safer, we’re making our students and our economy stronger and we’re investing in programs that will bring real results for Washington families,” said Governor Gregoire

The $33.4 billion budget includes an increase of nearly $900 per student in kindergarten through 12th grade and a $2.5 billion overall increase in education funding. More than $7.5 billion will be invested to improve roads, rails and bridges and $4.6 billion will be invested in new construction projects across the state.

Governor Gregoire’s budget will:

  • Safeguard savings in a constitutionally-protected Rainy Day Fund;
  • Fundamentally change educational expectations, delivery and results with a substantial investment at all levels, from early learning through K-12 to higher education and job training, including making school construction a top priority;
  • Provide access to health insurance for an additional 38,500 children who are currently not covered and takes steps toward providing higher quality, more affordable health care;
  • Create jobs by investing in tourism, small business support, research, promotion of Washington products, infrastructure improvements and local and regional workforce training across the state;
  • Keep family farms and forests profitable and productive;
  • Commit to significant, steady reductions in global warming pollution, reductions in fossil fuel imports and more jobs in the clean energy sector;
  • Offer financial help for new parents bonding with a child; and
  • Target investments to protect and restore Puget Sound.

These accomplishments build on the successes of the Gregoire administration. Governor Gregoire since 2005 has worked with the Legislature to:

  • Restore funding for voter-approved initiatives to reduce class sizes and provide more individual attention to students;
  • Invest in early learning by consolidating services and creating a private-public partnership so Washington children arrive in kindergarten ready to learn;
  • Support students who are struggling to meet academic standards with tutoring and mentoring;
  • Spur an increase of more than 155,000 jobs. Over half of these additional jobs are high-paying jobs in construction and professional services, such as employment and legal services, accounting, architecture and computer design;
  • Make major progress toward ensuring every child has health insurance by 2010 - when Governor Gregoire took office, nearly six percent of children had no health insurance. Now, only 4.4 percent are uninsured;
  • Sign an $8.5 billion, 16-year transportation package, which was approved by the voters, to improve safety and cut congestion on Washington roads;
  • Support research and advancement on global health issues by creating the Life Sciences Discovery Fund;
  • Create the Energy Freedom Loans to increase production and use of bio-fuels and reduce our dependence on foreign oil; and
  • Set aside $947 million last year to help make pension payments, pay for growing health costs for children and low-income adults and continue to reduce class sizes in public schools.

Additional Bill Action

  • SHB1138 - Relating to state general obligation bonds and related accounts.
  • SHB 1266 - Relating to death benefits for public employees.
  • SHB 1396 - Relating to a single ballot proposition for regional transportation investment districts and regional transit authorities at the 2007 general election.
  • SHB1417 - Relating to Washington state patrol survivor benefits.
  • 2SHB 1506 - Relating to alternative public works.
  • ESHB 1512 - Relating to the linked deposit program.
  • SHB 1566 - Relating to modifying the rural county tax credit provided in chapter 82.62 RCW.
  • HB 1671 - Relating to reclassifications, class studies, and salary adjustments.
  • HB 1820 - Relating to reducing air pollution through the licensing and use of medium-speed electric vehicles.
  • ESHB 1833 - Relating to occupational diseases affecting firefighters.
  • HB 2004 - Relating to providing comprehensive membership of significant jurisdictions on the executive board of regional transportation planning organizations.
  • HB 2163 - Relating to the public employees' benefits board medical benefits administration account.
  • HB 2357 - Relating to school districts' use of state forest revenues.
  • ESHB 2358 - Relating to state ferries.
  • SHB 2366 - Relating to accountability, efficiency, and oversight of state facility planning and management.
  • EHB 2388 - Relating to financing regional centers with seating capacities less than ten thousand that are acquired, constructed, financed, or owned by a public facilities district.
  • EHB 2391 - Relating to retirement system gain sharing and alternate benefits.
  • SHB 2394 - Relating to requesting the issuance and sale of general obligation bonds for highway improvements.
  • HB 2395 - Relating to leasing state lands and development rights on state lands to public agencies.
  • HB 2396 - Relating to investment of moneys in the permanent common school fund.
  • SSB 5085 - Relating to increasing the proportionate share of earnings from surplus balance investments that are deposited in transportation-related accounts.
  • SSB 5174 - Relating to corrections in the public retirement systems.
  • SSB 5207 - Relating to a study to evaluate the imposition of a fee on the processing of shipping containers, port-related user fees, and other funding mechanisms to improve freight corridors.
  • SB 5272 - Relating to the administration of fuel taxes.
  • SSB 5412 - Relating to clarifying goals, objectives, and responsibilities of certain transportation agencies.
  • 2SSB 5470 - Relating to dissolution proceedings.
  • SSB 5647 - Relating to clarifying the use of existing lodging tax revenues for tourism promotion.
  • ESSB 5726 - Relating to creating the insurance fair conduct act.
  • ESSB 5770 - Relating to work performed by institutions of higher education.
  • SSB 5826 - Relating to consumer credit reports.
  • SSB 5882 - Relating to creating the Washington heritage center account and establishing fees to be used for financing the Washington state heritage center.
  • ESSB 6099 - Relating to the state route number 520 bridge replacement and HOV project.
  • SSB 6156 - Relating to state government.
  • ESSB 6158 - Relating to biennial rebasing of nursing facility Medicaid payment rates.
  • SB 6167 - Relating to clarifying the director's authority to determine interest in certain public retirement systems.